Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Budget Threat and What Could be Lost

Almost two years ago, I wrote an article here extolling the progressive virtues of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in creating EnhancedView – a decade-long program to provide additional commercial satellite imaging capacity, upgraded ground architecture and value-added products and services to meet NGA and warfighter mapping and geospatial intelligence needs. Apparently, my enthusiasm got the best of me. The ink was barely dry on the contracts with GeoEye and DigitalGlobe before some in the Executive and Legislative Branches began to question the need for the program. The worsening fiscal situation has also brought EnhancedView – now NGA's largest program of record – increasing budget scrutiny.


The Administration has sent conflicting messages – President Obama has directed that over $400 billion over 10 years be eliminated from the Pentagon budget in the next decade. At the same time, the President endorsed the now so-called '2+2' future satellite imaging architecture in which two commercial-class satellites and two more sophisticated classified satellites would be built to meet future imaging requirements of the DOD, Intelligence Community, Department of Homeland Security and other government organizations.


Existing commercial imagery policy as well as the President's National Space Policy, and corresponding Department of Defense National Security Space Strategy, resoundingly endorse greater and sustained adoption of commercial technologies and partnerships to meet the needs of the U.S. government (USG). While no DOD program should be immune from budget tightening deliberations, EnhancedView remains exactly the creative public-private partnership model DOD needs in these challenging budgetary times...


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